January 28, 2006
You will not watch a finer sci-fi movie than Serenity. As a geek, I felt pressure from my peers to like the TV series, but it never took hold with me. It never felt compelling as a story, but I liked the Western meets Blade Runner synergy.
The movie, however, blew my socks off--smart and funny, with a solid plot and the best bad guy I've seen in years. It had a disappointing run at the box office, which probably killed any future for the canceled TV series, but I purchased it to sit alongside my other favorite sci-fi flicks.
January 26, 2006
I am an expert in children's programming. I've watched every show on Noggin, twice. I can sing all the ditties and name all the shapes and colors before I'm asked. My eyes have been reformed to see the world in only primary colors, which greys out everything but candy packages in the real world. Curious.
Looking a little deeper, though, I've noticed something that strikes me as odd: the steam locomotive. It appears as characters in shows, as the picture on a puzzle, as a toy in a scene. It's everywhere. Yet, steam locomotives haven't been used since, what, the 1950's? Why is it such a common sight on kids' programming?
Maybe it's the "iron horse" thing, a mechanical object whose myriad moving parts and unaerodynamic shape hold some archetypal appeal as a fearsome creature. Maybe it's simple nostalgia for the quaintness and solidity of a huge chunk of industrial metal. Maybe manufacturers refuse to pay royalties to modern locomotive makers. Maybe modern engines are just plain ugly.
I don't know. It's just a pattern I picked up.
January 25, 2006
Life Through a Teacher's Eyes
Sometimes, I think calling the parents of all my good kids and telling them what the bad kids are getting away with would have more of an effect than the reverse: calling an already resigned parent about his thug of a son.
I bet those good-kid parents would like to know how I reached such a point of desperation with one student that I invoked the Texas Education Code to refuse his return to my class. Permanently. Just so I could teach their children without his agitated, confrontational, nonsensical self wasting my time every day sending him to the principal.
I bet they'd really be interested to know that he returned, today, as if nothing happened. When I told him pointedly to leave my room, he became agitated, assumed an aggressive stance, called me the "n" word--while being restrained by fellow students--and speculated that he'd catch me on my bike on the way home. Sounds threatening, right? Well, after discussion with his principal, the school's only going to pursue the racial epithet he used, not his obvious threat.
Seems that his words, taken literally, were not threatening and would not withstand an appeal. The context and tone mean nothing, only the literal meaning: that he'd "catch me" on my way home. Wow.
So, in celebration of the lack of backbone, let me offer some interesting, yet creatively figurative, threats no self-respecting school would ever pursue as a threat:
"I'm going to bitchslap your coconut into next week."
"I shall perforate thine gutstock with mine cutlery."
"Split asunder will be your nosebridge."
"Let me offer to expand on your missing teeth motif."
"I say ol' boy, hold this bloody grenade while I reconnoiter for the pin."
"Yo G, get up on outta here before I hafta get krunk on you."
You get the picture. Feel free to add more as you're pondering the state of education in America.